Cross Site Scripting (XSS)

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Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) is an injection attack where malicious scripts are injected into otherwise trustworthy and benign websites. When an attacker sends malicious code, usually as a browser-side script, to another end user through a web application, that is called an XSS attack. Web applications that do not validate or encrypt user input are vulnerable to these attacks because various flaws are widespread.

A malicious script can be sent to an unsuspecting user through XSS to access their data. However, in the case of a hand that should not be trusted, the end user’s browser can’t tell that, and it will execute the script anyway. Essentially, the malicious script is capable of accessing cookies, session tokens, or other sensitive information that the browser can obtain because it believes that the hand is coming from a trusted source.

Don’t users have to deal with cross-site scripting?

XSS vulnerabilities on websites or applications can allow attackers to inject JavaScript into users’ browsers, compromising the security of vulnerable websites, web applications, and their users. In the same way that any other security vulnerability, such as XSS, is not the user’s problem. In other words, if it affects your users, it also affects you.

Occasionally, cross-site scripting is used to deface a website rather than directly target a user in cases where the attacker aims to impair a website from within. By injecting scripts into a website, an attacker can modify the website’s content or even redirect the browser to another web page, for instance, one infected with malicious code, to change the website content.

How Cross-site Scripting Works?

It is first necessary for an attacker to find a way of injecting malicious code (payload) into the URL of a web page that the victim visits to run malicious JavaScript code in the victim’s browser. Afterward, the victim must visit the malicious code’s website to execute it. An attacker can use a social engineering or phishing attack to send a malicious URL to a particular victim if the attacker targets a specific target.

The vulnerable website needs to be capable of directly incorporating user input into its pages for step one to be possible. It would then be possible for an attacker to insert a malicious string into a web page, which would be interpreted as source code by the victim’s browser when it sees the page. 

What are the types of XSS attacks?

XSS attacks can be classified into 3 main types. The following are some of them:

How to Prevent XSS?

You should ensure that your input is sanitized to avoid XSS attacks. For example, ensure you do not pass data you receive from the browser directly to your application code without checking for errors before doing so. On the Seahawk Media website, there are more such topics discussed that may be of interest.

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